Farmers play a key role in the government’s supplementary feeding and school feeding initiatives, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Wednesday.
He made this statement as he urged agrarian reform beneficiary organizations (ARBOs), irrigators associations (IAs), and farmers associations to heighten their involvement in government programs, particularly the Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (EPAHP) program.
“Through EPAHP, you will have easy access to a market because the government will buy your produce. Market and network access are vital during this Covid-19 pandemic. This will create jobs, and establish link-ups, freeing you to focus on production,” Nograles said in a statement.
Nograles, chair of the Task Force Zero Hunger, emphasized the need to be “creative” in ways to implement the government’s various feeding programs during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially those targeted at schools and schoolchildren.
Currently, Nograles said he is working the mechanics out with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to find ways to continue carrying out the program.
Nograles reiterated the need for the more active involvement of local chief executives.
“The national government hopes that our local officials fully support and get involved in these initiatives,” he said.
According to Nograles, local governments with their community feeding and nutrition programs can align them with the EPAHP for a more comprehensive approach to combatting hunger.
“Unity and cooperation are important in providing life-saving assistance to those who most need it, especially during this ongoing health crisis,” he said.
For their part, the ARBOs and IAs expressed gratitude at the other partner organizations from the government for easing the way to smoother business transactions and removing the “middleman” who eats up profits and hinders the selling of farm produce.
“We will now have greater access to consumers. We can directly sell our products to those who need them,” said Ronald Diaz, head of the Magsaysay Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative from Zamboanga del Sur.
ARBOs and IAs, meanwhile, expressed gratitude allowing smoother business transactions by removing the “middleman” who eats up profits and hinders the selling of farm produce.
EPAHP, which traces its origins to successful programs of the Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and Department of Agriculture, is tied to the Sustainable Development Goals and the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022.
President Rodrigo Duterte has made this initiative a priority in his administration’s poverty reduction efforts.
A key element of EPAHP is credit support for food production, processing, and marketing for community-based organizations through the Land Bank and other agencies. (PNA)